High-scoring offenses to face off when Yough hosts Jeannette
The big question surrounding Friday's WPIAL Class AA Interstate Conference first-place football game between No. 8 Jeannette (2-0, 2-0) and Yough (2-0, 2-0) is will Yough senior quarterback Tyler Donahue play?
Donahue, a three-year starter for the Cougars, injured his non-throwing shoulder during the season opener, and Yough coach Mark Crovak lists him as doubtful.
He was held out of last week's game at Brownsville.
“He's not practicing because he hasn't been cleared to play,” Crovak said before Tuesday's practice. “We hope to get him back, but I'm doubtful.
“I don't think he'll be back for at least another game. We're preparing that he won't play. If he plays, it's a bonus.”
If Donahue cannot play, junior Eric Baer will replace him. Baer has completed 16 of 23 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns in a little more than a game. He relieved Donahue in the Charleroi game Week 1.
Crovak said Baer had some issues with the snaps he needs to clean up.
Jeannette coach Roy Hall said he's preparing for both quarterbacks, especially for Donahue.
“He's the X-factor for them,” Hall said. “He does a lot of things well for them. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the first game.”
But Hall said Yough has more than just Donahue. He's concerned about running backs Tom Sever and Clayton Waldron, whose father Doug was Hall's teammate at Jeannette in the early 1980s.
“They're going to be a handful,” Hall said. “They have a lot of seniors, and this is the best Yough team I've seen since they beat us in 2006.”
Both teams enter the game with high-scoring offenses. Jeannette is averaging 55.5 points per game and Yough 41.0.
But what has Hall concerned is his team's poor tackling.
“I'm happy we're 2-0, but definitely not happy with the defense,” Hall said. “We have to play better. We didn't play well defensively against Charleroi. Thank God the offense is playing well.”
Jeannette led Charleroi, 22-13, at halftime before erupting in the third quarter en route to a 62-27 victory.
“We can't play that way defensively against Yough, Mt. Pleasant, Washington or Greensburg Central Catholic,” Hall said. “The mistakes we're making are fixable.”
Offensively, there isn't much to fix.
Junior quarterback Julian Batts has completed 17 of 20 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. But the Jayhawks have many weapons, including running backs Terrell Canady, Damone Morton and Quentin Rickard all scoring at least two touchdowns.
“The thing that jumps out to me on film is how many weapons they have and how the spread the ball around,” Crovak said. “There is not one kid you can take away. I'd like to say if you take away the quarterback you can shut them down. We have to be assignment sound and do the job on defense.”
Yough faced some adversity at Brownsville last week. The Cougars were down 14-0 early, but rallied for a 30-21 victory.
Crovak felt his team grew up during the game.
“I told the kids we quite possibly learned how to win,” Crovak said. “Teams here in the past may have lain down and taken the beating. This group didn't do it.
“At halftime, they didn't get excited and they listened to what (the coaches) told them to do, and it worked. The seniors we have on this team are tremendous leaders. They are unselfish, they just want to win. It's a nice thing to have.”
One player Crovak said he needs to get the ball to is slot back Eric Borkovich.
Crovak called him a playmaker.
“The offensive line has to do the job for us to have a chance to win,” Crovak said. “We have players who are experienced, and they listen.
“This game is going to come down to turnovers. We made too many mistakes last year, and it cost us.”
Jeannette was a 45-13 winner in 2012.
Hall said Batts has become the leader he expected, and that freshman linebacker/running back Kareem Hall, his nephew, is getting comfortable and is playing well.
“We're playing a team with a lot of experience and has something to prove,” Hall said.